Bellingham burglars linked to $120,000 spree get prison time

Two Bellingham burglars will spend the next few years in prison after police linked them to a four-month, $120,000 break-in spree that ended in September 2014.

John Casey Rassett, 30, worked as a roofer while he lived in a halfway house on North Garden Street in the summer of 2014. He drove a green Ford Explorer he bought from a neighbor, Sophia Amadea Phillips, 26, according to charging papers.

On July 11, a man called to report a suspicious green Ford Explorer parked in the 2600 block of Jensen Road. Car trouble, the driver explained. Another white man came running down a driveway and got into the car. That day, a woman reported $24,000 in property — jewelry, electronics, other valuables — stolen from her home in the same block.

Four days later, a woman on Cedarwood Lane called Blaine police. She’d come home to find her windows pried open. Over $61,000 in property was missing. She recalled two roofers had worked on her house in June. One of them was named John. An earring, a hair pin and a rolling suitcase were later recovered by police, a total value of $20.

Police pieced together a case against Rassett and Phillips’ live-in boyfriend, David Dean Roth. Six more burglaries were tied to the pair in September, according to the charges:

•  A $10,000 theft of speakers, jewelry and camera equipment Sept. 18, from the 1700 block of Old Samish Way. Police later tracked down security footage from Everett and Marysville pawn shops showing Rassett selling off three camera lenses, a camera and a micrometer from the house.

•  A handgun and other property valued at $14,000 taken Sept. 23, from a house in the 700 block of 40th Street. A neighbor told police a man had come knocking on her door that morning looking for someone named Tiffany. No one named Tiffany lived there.

•  The next day, Sept. 24, a Gateway computer and other property valued at $4,800 was stolen from a house on Bigleaf Lane in Sudden Valley. Sunglasses, Keurig K-cups and a video game system were taken Sept. 25, from a house in the 1200 block of Indiana Street; a laptop was taken Sept. 26, from the 1300 block of Nigel Road; a woman returned home Sept. 29, to find her Knox Avenue home burglarized.

On the afternoon of Sept. 30, a neighbor spotted a white man trying to pry open a back window in the 1200 block of Yew Street. The neighbor called the resident, who told her nobody was supposed to be there. Police arrived to find blood on the unopened door. Officers pulled over Roth’s white Mitsubishi Diamente on East Sunset Drive. Roth and Phillips were arrested and charged with attempted burglary. Roth admitted he would have pry bars and stolen goods at his house. He said he trades the goods for drugs.

A week later Rassett was in jail, too. A woman on Briza Court, in the Edgemoor neighborhood, identified him as the burglar who tried to break into her house on the morning of Sept. 24. She heard the doorbell ring twice, then saw a putty knife jutting in between the door and door frame. She pounded on the door, and the man ran back to a teal vehicle, either a pickup or a Suburban.

Another victim on Jensen Road read about the arrests and recognized Roth’s name: He had briefly dated her daughter. Her home had been broken into on June 4. About $5,800 in property was missing. Police showed her the fruits of a search warrant at Roth’s home, and she identified a jewelry box and some jewelry, worth $200, as hers.

Rassett and Roth implicated each other once they were under arrest. Roth told police Rassett would use the roofing job to find targets, and he admitted he’d been with Rassett during the Blaine burglary.

Both men pleaded guilty to reduced charges. Rassett admitted to three counts of possession of stolen property in the second degree and, in an Alford plea, one count of attempted burglary on Briza Court. He’s sentenced to four years in prison.

Roth pleaded guilty to attempted burglary and five counts of possession of stolen property in the second degree. Superior Court Judge Deborra Garrett sentenced him Thursday, Feb. 12, to five years in prison. Court papers say the men must pay restitution, even on charges that were dropped.

Rassett has a felony record of second-degree burglary, second-degree assault, two counts of possessing of stolen property, vehicle prowling, prescription fraud and drug possession. As for Roth: three counts of residential burglary, second-degree robbery, two counts of theft in the first degree, two counts of theft in the second degree, vehicle theft, possession of stolen property and illegal possession of a firearm.

Phillips, also a felon, is awaiting a “plea/sentencing” hearing set for March 5, for her alleged role in the Yew Street burglary attempt. On the same day she’ll have a hearing on felony drug charges. She was arrested on warrants on a Wednesday morning in November behind a house in the 2600 block of Moore Street. In her purse police said they found a knotted piece of plastic with meth inside.